The businessman and writer Max De Pree wrote:
'The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you.'
On the first day of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, President Kennedy met with his advisers. He listened to them outline the evidence that the Cubans, assisted by the Soviet Union, were installing nuclear missiles. Once he had heard the intelligence summary and some analysis, he said:
‘What you’re really talking about are two or three different potential operations.’
He summarises what he has heard from them. There is some discussion. He then says:
‘Well, now, let’s decide what we ought to be doing.’
President Kennedy defined reality.
Thirteen days later, having looked into the abyss of nuclear annihilation and stared down the Cubans and Soviets who dismantled their missiles, President Kennedy closed the last meeting of his team of advisers. Immediately after they left the Oval Office he telephoned an assistant and said:
‘Dick, I want to get a President’s commemorative for the Executive Committee of the National Security Council who’ve been involved in this matter’.
The President said Thank You.